Around this time of year, as the days get longer and the weather becomes warmer, a homeschooling mom's heart turns to…the end of the school year! This year in particular, the end of the school year also signals the end of formal homeschool for my oldest daughter. But before we get there, we still have a few more AP and CLEP exams to complete. Close, but we're still not there yet. Sigh. Do you feel that way too? If you don't, then you could probably skip this post. Or maybe you feel like you're heading that direction and need a shot in the arm. If that's you, then read on.
Let's face it, homeschooling is hard work. Even if you have your kids enrolled in classes one day a week or have other people helping you, the burden of managing, grading, and supervising each of your kids' studies can be grueling, especially if you are just starting out. And even if you are a veteran that has got it down (ha!), we are human and do get weary. It's easy to burn out this time of year, especially if you have other big issues besides homeschooling you are trying to manage, like a new baby, major home repairs to deal with, or even a pet that needs your attention.
But thankfully, the God who calls us to educate our children does not leave us in these situations. Rather, it is these kinds of circumstances and seasons that are His specialty, for the more I admit that I cannot do this, the more He is then able to work in and through me. Here's a "math" equation we can all commit to memory (say it after me now!): Less of me = more of Him.
Besides remembering that in Him, I have all I need, there are three other things that I am going to do during this spring break to refresh and rejuvenate so that I can finish this year well. Maybe they can help you as well. And if spring break is done and gone, I hope these can still help you to make the most of the end of your school year.
1. Carve out some extended time with God.
For me, a morning out with my Bible, journal and no agenda does wonders. In my day to day existence, a 30 minute quiet time is essential, but for deeper refreshment, I really need the extra time to slow my spirit down so that I can hear from God as He speaks into my situation.
What do I do during this time? Usually, I spend the time focusing on a pressing issue in my own heart---not my kids, not my husband, not in the people I minister to or with. Sometimes it's my unforgiving heart, discontentment, or an acid tongue. When these sins are left undealt with, I can do great damage in the long run to my loved ones. If there is some recurring issue I need to deal with, spending time in prayer, repentance, and study helps me to let God start dealing with me so that I can be the best wife, mom, and friend I can be. Because our God is so gracious, even in His firmness and discipline, I know that even if it is hard, it is worth it in the long run. And for me, those deep changes begin with some extended time with God.
If possible, consider doing a little "spring cleaning" in your heart by setting aside some time for you and God to commune. Maybe you don't have a sin issue to deal with, but instead have a problem that burdens your heart. Or some of you may find it helpful to use the time to take inventory with God as you enter into the last couple months of the year. What still remains undone? Does it have to be completed or can you let it go? What problem areas frustrate your best efforts? What children need a fresh insight from God? Review your mission and vision for your homeschool so that you can get back on track if needed. Or maybe you simply want to spend the time in praise and worship. Whatever you do, take some time to refresh and renew with God.
As moms, it's easy to forget that we are first mom and then teacher. I confess that since I started homeschooling (well, maybe it's always been a struggle!), it's easy to see my kids as my "work." There are times when I am not sure what to say to them that is not school-related. (Am I the only one?) And so, during this spring break, enjoy some time with your kids. It doesn't mean you have to go on a fancy vacation, though you can. For us, it may simply mean enjoying our relationships, laughing at our youngest's silly jokes (you know, the ones that aren't really that funny), or playing games that have nothing to do with multiplication tables or parts of speech. If you love being outdoors, it could just be visiting a different neighborhood park every day or going on a hike or looking for bugs. It doesn't have to be expensive to be meaningful to your kids. They're good that way.
Or take the time during the week to take each of your kids out one at a time for a special treat or meal during the week and catch up on their lives. With your younger ones, it may just be about the story that's running through their minds while the older ones may want the time to discuss other issues. Again, having extended time with no agenda may refresh and renew your relationships with your kids so that when you get back to the books, you may understand them in a new way.
And don't forget your husband too! It's easy to be in homeschool mom mode and forget that before you are mom, you are wife. Schedule a fun date night and reconnect with your husband if it has been a long time.
Sometimes it is not the big things that frustrate our homeschooling, but instead the problem of finding the papers that you needed yesterday or scrambling for an idea while the kids are asking "What's for dinner?" Or maybe it's just the piles of stuff that accumulate that just bug you. (I took a picture of mine so you know I feel your pain.) Spring break is a great time to dissect those nagging issues and start making some headway towards a solution so that your days back at school will run a little more smoothly.
For example, you can take the time to create a filing system for your papers as you declutter. (And start pulling your year-end portfolio together at the same time!) Or you can sit down and put together a meal rotation to help make that dinner decision easier for you on those busy days (that's a post in itself!). Or it could be a good time to just tidy up a little or clean out some things you no longer need. Find your irritations and take some time to figure out a solution or work out a system to ease that frustration.
We personally don't have the luxury of going on a fancy vacation over our spring break but that doesn't mean that it can't be restful or meaningful. I hope these three suggestions can also give you some ways to restore your own soul, your relationships with your family, and your own home so you can finish the school year well.